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Wonderland, Neverland or Oz?

It was with great trepidation that I first entered the blogging world some 4 years ago. I know what a risk it is to publish your work, to put your thoughts naked before the crowd on the blogosphere. The readers are usually either in a very distracted or very critical frame of mind. Knowing this, I wrote with fear and trembling on a subject about which I had the greatest confidence: the nature of fantasy. Namely, I compared the fantasy worlds of Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia and Twilight.

Having grown in greater confidence, I now wish to try a similar experiment. I am in the middle of reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass, and it has lead to me wonder about Wonderland, Neverland, Oz and the like. To be honest, I have always enjoyed Peter Pan the most of all. Maybe it is because Oz and Wonderland are lacking a boyish hero. And pirates. And flying ships. And Indians. I do know that, as a child, I was never truly frightened of Captain Hook. I was, however, put out by both the Wicked Witch of the West and the Queen of Hearts. Perhaps there could be some Freudian explanation for the thing: that I had a strange aversion/attraction to loud and intimidating women while I felt psychologically neutral toward handicap males. Maybe its just that queens and witches are often disagreeable, whereas pirates always are, which is what makes them more reliable. As Capt. Jack Sparrow so eloquently put it; “Me! I’m dishonest, and you can always count on a dishonest man to be dishonest.” An evil male character is consistently ruthless. An evil female is fickle. You can form a consistent strategy against the male, whereas with the Wicked Witch and the Red Queen, you have to constantly be thinking on your feet.

Back to the experiment: I am curious about which of these fantasy world’s appealed to you most. Before taking your vote, however, I wish to remind my audience of the control, the dependant and the independent variables. First off, these three stories share these similarities: they were written by Victorian-era English-speaking intellectuals of the highest capabilities in order to entertain children born into that most progressive, stuffy and dingy era. In other words, their common trait is that all three tales seem encourage a young listener to rebel and escape against an overly constricting environment using a mixture of classical wisdom and modern imagination. The differences, as far as I can tell, are as follows:

1) In Wonderland, a child’s common sense and imagination prevail over nonsense and authoritarianism.

2) In Neverland, a child’s faithfulness and sense of adventure defeat lawless discipline (symbolized by the oxymoronic Pirate Captain).

3) In Oz, a child’s maturity into the classical virtues of Temperance (Tin Man) Wisdom (Scarecrow) and Courage (Lion) overcomes the tyranny of both the Witch and the Wizard.

So which story do you relate to most? Feel free to post your answer. If you don’t, however, do not fret. The purpose of this experiment, much like the purpose of the three books above, is to awaken your imagination. Getting you to respond isn’t nearly as important as getting you to ponder.

About Daniel Lacourrege

Daniel Lacourrege is a 20-something year old theologian living in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. It is the best place in the world to be a 20-something. It is the third best place in the world to be a Catholic (Rome & Jerusalem claiming first & second).
His life has become one adventure right after another. Most of them start in a classroom or library, but very few of them finish there. He likes most things, but usually must be in the mood for them. The only thing he is never in the mood for is traffic.
If you feel so moved, you may email him at lacourrege4@archbishopshaw.us.

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